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Srinagar, Jun 15: The Jammu and Kashmir government has imposed a ban on smoking in public places with immediate effect, a senior officer of the state Drugs and Food Control Organisation said here today.

He said the ban will remain inforce in all public places not only on smoking, but advertising of cigaretes and other tobacco products and their sale to minors in the state.

The officer said anybody caught smoking in public place will not only have to pay a fine, but can be awarded imprisonment upto two years or both.

He said the ban has been imposed under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (prohibition of advertisements and regulation of trade and commerce, production, supply and distribution) Act 2003 which was passed by Parliament in April 2003.

The state government has prohibited smoking in public places, direct or indirect advertising of cigarettes or other tobacco products and their sale to people below the age of 18 years.

He said the food inspectors of Drug and Food Control Organisation have been given powers to take action against the offenders in their respective area of jurisdiction.

The Act also prohibits the sale of cigarettes or tobacco products to a person below the age of 18 years and in an area with a radius of 100 yards of educational institutions.

A number social and other organisations have welcomed the ban on smoking in the state.

However, the Kashmir Citizen Council (KCC) General secretary Imdad Saqi expressed apprehension over the success of the ban.

He said polythen has been banned but thousands of quintals was still being imported into valley openly.

Mr Saqi said shopkeepers and others use polythene everywhere without any checking as all those responsible for imposing the ban on polythene are directly or indirectly involved in the trade.

UNI

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